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Lady of the lake, version #938

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ramblin' Jack Elliott, - Muleskinner Blues

Intrepid Eater

A man is never drunk if he can lay on the floor without holding on.
Joe E. Lewis

I had the most bizarre appetizer I have ever tasted last night. Finally the nadir of the state of American food as we know it has been reached. Leslie and I had been invited to attend a dinner and wine pairing at Aqua Terra, a restaurant at the Pala Mesa Resort in Fallbrook. We rarely visit Pala Mesa and it is a bit odd that we don't because the food there has always been pretty good. Just not on our normal geographic flight plan.

Last night St. Francis Winery was having a wine pairing at the restaurant and we had planned on going with some friends that we rarely get to break bread with. Yesterday the call came that the dinner had cancelled, a large block of guests had unfortunately pooped out at the last minute.

We decided to suck it up like troopers and show up anyway. We will bring our own wine, damn it! And we did. The meal kept skirting disaster. Our thirteen quickly became nine when the hostess mistakenly sent a bunch of our party away, telling them that the dinner was not for another hour. They never came back. Service was interminably slow. Food was pretty good, although my lamb shank arrived cold. I know that it is tough to synchronize so many orders so I will cut them a break. After all, Mercury is retrograde.

I will say that the appetizer in question stood out on the menu like a train wreck. I had to order it, the same way you have to rubberneck a bad crash on the freeway. It just sounded so perverse from a culinary perspective. But ample proof that Americans will eat anything.




Peanut butter, jalapenos and raspberry. H-m-m?  I asked the server wtf and he said that the chef came from Colorado and it was a real smash there.

It wasn't really that bad. It could have been another flavor instead of peanut butter, the jalapeno tended to dominate. Very discordant, nothing I would ever order again but I had to jump off the bridge. It was too big of a dare. Like a spicy peanut butter sandwich. I think it might have had a bit of cream cheese added too to soften the blow and add further disparate elements. Yes it was an abomination, but we live in a hideous world of reality television, Louis Gohmert and all sorts of other strange perversions.

I guess the restaurant doesn't cater to food snobs like yours truly, the mere mention of the dish on the menu sending me tittering into a fit of paralytic laughter. I salute them for their courage. Most people enjoyed their dinners, as I did. Desserts were very good. Leslie loved Jim's ahi salad but did not care for her own seafood pasta.

The nine of us, with one teetotaler, drank eight bottles of red wine, two courtesy of our gracious hosts. I left feeling a bit sauced. Will give the place a few more shots. Just hold the Skippy.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Can't be stopped, only contained...

Garden Wall - George Tooker c. 1990
The painter George Tooker has passed away. A student of Marsh and an heir to Benton, Wood and Hopper. Ash Can meets Regionalism. A wonderful artist.

***

Here are a few of my recent internet tussles for your perusal:

Daisy Deadhead. Bloodthirsty Liberal. Or this. See, the liberals hate me and the conservatives hate me.

***

This lady has had so many plastic surgeries that she can no longer shut her eyes.

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Some of you, including my wife and Brett, thought that the picture of fog on Gavilan was boring. Kerry thought that it lacked some dynamic element. He used to call shots like this pussey as in pus. Shots that you like and they only have meaning for you and which the rest of the world hates.

I think that it speaks more to the rest of your general lack of breeding and perception, the photograph resembling an old chinese scroll painting.

***

The hawk is still sitting on the eggs but I think that the day is fast approaching. Got hot today for the first time all year and is expected to be in the nineties this weekend.

***

Several of you have recently asked, one of you incessantly, why I am not making money at this blogging thing? The short answer is, I don't know how. And it is not that important to me at present. It's not like the soda fountain at Schrafts, "You want to write for the New Yorker, kid?" Too many competent writers out there and I don't live in New York. It's fun for its own sake. And don't tell me ads, marginal money, I tried it once. I will sell out, but please lord, give me a decent bid.

***

Reading an interesting book on Peter Paul Rubens and his secret 16th Century life as a diplomatic courier as well as court painter. Dovetails with last month's book on the lost Carravagio.

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Check out the three dimensional drawing program Anaglyph by Neave. Very entertaining.

Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing

For what it's really worth

I see that Buffalo Springfield tickets go on sale friday for the new tour. Tickets at the Wiltern theater run from $89 to $250. Don't think so. Loved them at the Bridge Benefit but can not and will not do it.

We had a thought about seeing Devo, one of my favorite seventies/eighties bands at the Belly-Up Tavern last week but demurred when we saw that it would cost a cool $180 before drinks. For two of us. Devo.

I don't know what the hell happened? I can remember going to absolutely great concerts for five bucks when the music was great and performers weren't sidelining as real estate developers like U-2's Edge. I know you have to make that payment on the little chateau in Provence but could you give us all a break?

***

Everyone wants to romanticize their coming of age era, (and apparently exploit it) but it was the free love era remember, not the shall we go to a show or not eat for a month era, or maybe the kid doesn't need a college education, lets go see the Buffalo Springfield instead era.

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I don't think that Bill Graham would have put up with this Live Nation, Ticketmaster monolithic monopoly stuff for long. Bill did his best to keep things reasonable.

***

Friend went to the happiest place on earth this weekend with the family. The ticket these days at Disneyland? One hundred dollars per. I believe that Legoland and Sea World will both set you back about $70 a ticket. Things have gotten totally insane. Rather go to the library and get a good book. It's free and you don't have to feel guilty if you aren't having a good time. You can just borrow a different one.

***

I go back pretty far at Disneyland, when they had the mule rides up the side of the hill. Don't remember the cost of admission but I bet it was under a ten spot. I once paid $400 samoleans to see Bowie when I was a high roller. Those days are long gone. Will listen to myself play bad guitar before I pay $250 to see Neil Young and Co. get out of their walkers and sing about their gout and failing prostates. Or anyone else for that matter.

***

And finally, Wisconsin freshman congressman Sean Duffy, you guessed it, a Republican, is bummed because he is struggling to pay his bills on $174,000 a year. Feel your pain, Sean.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Washed away.

Shawn is getting totally nailed in Thailand. Biblical floods. He said that he is beginning to reconsider the Mayan prophecies.


Yo bro!

  AAAUUUGGGHHH! We have had more rain in the last 4 days than in all the worst of previous storms! Last night my foreman Uhan called to say that my worker and his wife were stuck about 2 kilometers away in flood-waters! We jumped into my truck and though it took almost 30 minutes to get to "M" restaurant (about 1 kilometer away), managed to reach them halfway between there and the turnoff to Hua Thanon. My truck (pretty massive and never before 'endangered' by floodwaters) actually felt close to being swept off the road by waters halfway up the doors (neat effect when the headlights go underwater!). We managed to get them and their motorcycle into the truck and made it home by 10:30 pm. The worker's wife works in a shop in nearby Huathanon, rand they had received calls throughout the day saying that the surf was hitting the shop doors and floodwaters were streaming down the other direction. When they got a call at 4 pm saying it was getting worse with the high tide they had decided to go. While waiting for me, Cham made his way by foot to the turnoff at the ringroad only to find the waters there to be over 1 meter deep and rushing straight down the street to the sea so they gave up hope of reaching the shop and called me. Its still raining now at 8 am but not as hard as last night. The bike is still in the back of my truck so I have not ventured out this morning to see if I can do anything to help anywhere. Probably try in another hour or so.





Rumblings

It is really easy to be a monday morning quarterback with 20/20 vision. I admit it. I had a conversion a few years ago and thought that weighing the alternatives, nuclear power was the most rational and acceptable methodology for solving our acute need for energy. Even though the storage problem had not been solved, although the french have been out on the forefront. Even though the EPA has shown conclusively that every safety liner will leak at some point in time. Hey, we live in an imperfect world.

Maybe I was wrong.

I am bothered by the idea that it can't happen here. And that political arm twisting has allowed some of our facilities to dance around certain seismic issues. I was listening to a scientist on NPR yesterday discuss a new fault that she had mapped out approximately 700 yards from the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Facility in San Luis Obispo County. It is called the Shoreline Fault. It has long been known that there is another fault approximately 35 miles from the twin reactors, called the Hosgri Fault. While the facility was supposedly designed to withstand a 7.5 magnitude quake from the Hosgri, scientists are concerned that a temblor affecting both faults simultaneously could have dire effects on the site. The hypothesis is that a quake affecting both faults will cause them to create a much larger sympathetic quake than either individual quake is capable of producing on its own. From NPR:
"We don't yet have a firm idea of the hazard posed by the Shoreline Fault," says Thomas Brocher, director of the Earthquake Science Center at the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, Calif., who led the team that discovered the fault.
State Sen. Sam Blakeslee, a Republican who holds a doctorate in earthquake studies, wants PG&E to pull back an application to extend the plant's operating license for 20 years until more is known.
"Aging nuclear power plants and large, active fault systems should not be in close proximity. This isn't exactly rocket science," Blakeslee says. Because the Shoreline Fault is so close to the Diablo Canyon plant it "can produce shaking far in excess of what's expected."
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and PG&E say the plant is safe and built to withstand a magnitude 7.5 earthquake, the maximum considered possible for the site. Damage from a Japan-like tsunami is unlikely, because the reactors sit on an 85-foot cliff above the ocean and fault structure in the area differs from the Pacific Rim.
As soon as the earthquake and tsunami hit, the full speed ahead nuclear energy industry and their abettors and future employees at the NRC started backpedalling and telling us that it couldn't happen here.
Diablo Canyon, whose reactors began operating in the mid-1980s, has a long history of seismic issues. The discovery of the offshore Hosgri Fault in 1971, after the plant's construction permits were issued, forced a major, costly redesign.
Brocher, the USGS scientist, said scientists do not know how fast the adjacent sides of the Shoreline Fault are sliding, a key measurement to determine potential danger. A higher rate of slippage leads to increased pressure — and a greater chance for an earthquake.
With the two faults in proximity "the uncertainty is ... to what extent they might interact," says Barbara Byron, a senior nuclear policy adviser for the California Energy Commission. Since 2008, the commission has urged the plant to conduct three-dimensional mapping of the Shoreline Fault, using technology employed in oil exploration.
Funding has been approved for the study. In testimony to the NRC last year, she called the plant's seismic data "incomplete ... outdated" and urged a review of its evacuation plans.
Uselding, the NRC spokeswoman, said preliminary reviews found that it's unlikely an earthquake would take place directly under Diablo Canyon, but that potential shaking could cause minor damage to buried piping and conduits.
Diablo Canyon has an extensive seismic monitoring system, ready to detect any shifts in the area. "Potential impacts of the Shoreline Fault fall within all safety margins," company spokesman Kory Raftery said.

Seismic experts have estimated there is a 2 percent to 3 percent chance of a major earthquake in California each year, and a 46 percent chance of a quake with a magnitude of 7.5 or greater within the next 30 years.

State Senators on Monday asked utilities to delay efforts to relicense nuclear power plants until the companies complete detailed seismic maps to get a true picture of the risks posed by earthquakes and tsunamis.

The Obama Administration has been actively pursuing a nuclear power strategy and push and has promised the utilities billions in loan guarantees and federal tax credits.

Of course closer to home for me, San Onofre is also sporting three nuclear reactors. When it came on line in the 1980's, scientists believed that it only had to withstand a maximum 6.5 magnitude quake. It was supposedly built to withstand a 7.0 earthquake. Some scientists believe that the potential seismic event at the site is far higher on the Richter Scale.
Daniel Hirsch, a lecturer in nuclear policy at University of California, Santa Cruz, noted California's reactors are in one of the most seismically active areas of the world after Japan. "What's going on in Japan could happen here," he said.
We should have learned a couple of things by now. First off is our human inability to conceive of the magnitude of forces that our planet is capable of. They surely exceed our ability to visualize, measure or plan for. Secondly, we need to understand that with human beings involved, what can go wrong, eventually will go wrong. We tend to overestimate our competency. And plutonium is forever.

The Japanese have been lauded as the most earthquake prepared people in the world but in a perfect storm, we saw their defenses crumble. The particles that have been unleashed are terrifying but the effects will be slow and difficult to ascertain. Typically clusters of cancers will start to occur within the affected population. But since it can not be seen, we can pretend that radiation exposure is not happening. It will be interesting if the affected areas of Japan will ever be able to grow edible crops again?

Speaking of Japan, the behavior of TEPCO has been shocking. Not providing independent radiation analysis, sending their employees into the radioactive water unprotected and unsupervised and then blaming those same employees for not heeding the sirens. Shameful.

From USGS

California Earthquake History 1769-Present

Includes California, Baja California, and Nevada events

The magnitude listed here is the "summary magnitude". For most events prior to 1898 this is the adjusted intensity magnitude, and for events after 1898 it is the surface wave magnitude. The list includes known earthquakes with a magnitude of at least 6 and selected smaller events. The smaller events since 1898 all have at least one reported magnitude of at least 5.8, even if the summary magnitude is smaller. Some of these magnitudes may be different than what is reported in the Southern California or Northern California Earthquake Catalog. In the future, we will adjust some of these magnitudes to reflect the best measure of the earthquake and label the type of magnitude being reported.
The date and time for each earthquake are given as "24 hour" time referenced to Greenwich Mean Time (now UTC). To convert a time to Pacific Standard Time (PST), subtract 8 hours. To convert a time to Pacific Daylight Time (PDT), where appropriate, subtract 7 hours. Example: The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake occurred at 00:04 UTC on October 18, 1989 or 5:04pm PDT on October 17, 1989.
Source:
Ellsworth, William L., "Earthquake History, 1769-1989" in USGS Professional Paper 1515, Robert E. Wallace, ed.,1990; William Ellsworth, personal communication; and USGS earthquake catalogs.





DATE        TIME(GMT) LATITUDE LONGITUDE   MAG  LOCATION
year mth dy hr min      (N)       (W)  
======================================================================

1951 10  8  410       40 15.00 124 30.00   6.0  W. Of Cape Mendocino
1951 12 26  046       32 48.00 118 18.00   5.9  San Clemente Island
1952  7 21 1152       35  0.   119  1.00   7.7  Kern County earthquake
1952  7 21 12 5       35  0.   119  0.     6.4  Kern County
1952  7 23  038       35 22.00 118 35.00   6.1  Kern County

1952  7 29  7 3       35 23.00 118 51.00   6.1  Bakersfield
1952 11 22  746       35 44.00 121 12.00   6.0  Bryson
1954  1 12 2333       35  0.   119  1.00   5.9  W. of Wheeler Ridge
1954  3 19  954       33 17.00 116 11.00   6.2  Arroyo Salada
1954  7  6 1113       39 25.00 118 32.00   6.6  Rainbow Mountain, Nevada
1954  7  6 22 7       39 18.00 118 30.00   6.4  Rainbow Mountain, Nevada
1954  8 24  551       39 35.00 118 27.00   6.8  Stillwater, Nevada
1954  8 31 2220       39 30.00 118 30.00   6.3  Stillwater, Nevada
1954 10 24  944       31 30.00 116  0.     6.0  W. of Santo Tomas, B.C.
1954 11 12 1226       31 30.00 116  0.     6.3  W. of Santo Tomas, B.C.

1954 11 25 1116       40 16.00 125 38.00   6.5  W. of Cape Mendocino
1954 12 16 11 7       39 19.00 118 12.00   7.1  Fairview Peak, Nevada
1954 12 16 1111       39 30.00 118  0.     6.8  Dixie Valley, Nevada
1954 12 21 1956       40 56.00 123 47.00   6.6  E. of Arcata
1956  2  9 1432       31 45.00 115 55.00   6.8  San Miguel, B.C.
1956  2  9 1524       31 45.00 115 55.00   6.1  San Miguel, B.C.
1956  2 14 1833       31 30.00 115 30.00   6.3  San Miguel, B.C.
1956  2 15  120       31 30.00 115 30.00   6.4  San Miguel, B.C.
1956 10 11 1648       40 40.00 125 46.00   6.0  W. of Cape Mendocino
1956 12 13 1315       31  0.   115  0.     6.0  W. shore, Gulf of California

1959  3 23  710       39 36.00 118  1.00   6.3  Dixie Valley, Nevada
1959  6 23 1435       39  5.00 118 49.00   6.1  Schurz, Nevada
1960  8  9  739       40 19.00 127  4.00   6.2  W. of Cape Mendocino
1966  6 28  426       36  0.   120 30.00   6.0  Parkfield
1966  8  7 1736       31 48.00 114 30.00   6.3  Gulf of California
1966  9 12 1641       39 25.00 120  9.00   6.0  Truckee
1968  4  9  228       33 11.00 116  8.00   6.5  Borrego Mountain
1968  6 26  142       40 14.00 124 16.00   5.4  Punta Gorda
1971  2  9 14 0       34 25.00 118 24.00   6.5  San Fernando
1973  2 21 1445       34  4.00 119  2.00   5.2  Point Mugu

1976 11 26 1119       41 18.00 125 42.00   6.3  W. of Orick
1979  8  6 17 5       37  7.00 121 31.00   5.7  Coyote Lake
1979 10 15 2316       32 36.00 115 18.00   6.5  Imperial Valley
1980 01 24 1900       37 50.00 121 47.00   5.8  Livermore
1980  5 25 1633       37 36.00 118 50.00   6.1  Mammoth Lakes
1980  5 25 1649       37 39.00 118 54.00   5.9  Mammoth Lakes
1980  5 25 1944       37 33.00 118 49.00   5.8  Mammoth Lakes
1980  5 27 1450       37 29.00 118 48.00   6.0  Mammoth Lakes
1980  6  9  328       32 12.00 115  5.00   6.4  Victoria, B.C.
1980 11  8 1027       41  7.00 124 40.00   7.2  W. of Eureka

1981  4 26 1209       33  8.00 115 39.00   6.0  Westmorland
1981  9  4 1550       33 40.00 119  7.00   5.9  N. of Santa Barbara Island
1981  9 30 1153       37 35.00 118 52.00   5.8  Mammoth Lakes
1983  5  2 2342       36 14.00 120 19.00   6.5  Coalinga
1983  7 22  239       36 14.00 120 25.00   5.7  Coalinga
1984  4 24 2115       37 19.00 121 39.00   6.1  Morgan Hill
1984  9 10  314       40 23.00 127  9.00   6.7  Mendocino Fracture Zone
1984 11 23 18 8       37 27.00 118 36.00   5.7  Round Valley
1985  8  4 12 1       36  8.00 120 10.00   5.9  North Kettleman Hills
1986  7  8  920       34  0.   116 36.00   6.0  North Palm Springs

1986  7 20 1429       37 34.00 118 26.00   5.6  Chalfant Valley
1986  7 21 1442       37 32.00 118 26.00   6.2  Chalfant Valley
1986  7 31  722       37 28.00 118 22.00   5.2  Chalfant Valley
1987 10  1 1442       34  3.00 118  5.00   5.8  Whittier Narrows
1987 11 24  153       33  4.00 115 47.00   6.2  Elmore Ranch fault
1987 11 24 1316       33  1.00 115 51.00   6.6  Superstition Hills
1989 10 18 0004       37  2.19 121 52.98   7.1  Loma Prieta
1991  8 16 2226       41 38.00 125 52.00   6.3  W. of Crescent City
1991  8 17 1929       40 17.00 124 14.00   6.2  Punta Gorda
1991  8 17 2217       41 41.00 126  3.00   7.1  W. of Crescent City

1992  4 23  450       33 58.00 116 19.00   6.1  Joshua Tree
1992  4 25 1806       40 20.00 124 14.00   7.2  Cape Mendocino
1992  4 26  741       40 26.00 124 36.00   6.5  Cape Mendocino
1992  4 26 1118       40 23.00 124 35.00   6.6  Cape Mendocino
1992  6 28 1157       34 12.00 116 26.00   7.3  Landers
1992  6 28 1505       34 12.00 116 50.00   6.2  Big Bear
1993  5 17 2320       37  9.00 117 50.00   6.1  Big Pine
1994  1 17 1230       34 13.00 118 32.00   6.7  Northridge
1994  9 01 1515       40 27.00 125 54.00   6.9  Mendocino Fracture Zone
1994  9 12 1223       38 49.00 119 37.00   6.0  Carter's Station, Nevada

1995  2 19  403       40 37.00 125 54.00   6.6  W. of Eureka
1995  9 20 2327       35 46.00 117 38.00   5.5  Ridgecrest
1996  7 24 2016       41 47.04 125 54.66   5.7  W. of Eureka
1997  1 22  717       40 16.32 124 23.64   5.7  Punta Gorda
1999  8  1 1606       37 23.40 117  4.80   5.7  Scotty's Junction, Nevada
1999 10 16  947       34 35.64 116 16.26   7.1  Hector Mine
2000  3 16 1520       40 23.16 125 16.74   5.9  Mendocino Fracture Zone
2003 12 22 1916       35 41.98 121  5.84   6.5  San Simeon
2004  9 28 1715       35 48.90 120 22.44   6.0  Parkfield

Monday, March 28, 2011

Argentina's Price


Israel is asking Argentina to answer questions about an alleged deal with Iran for better trade relations in exchange for dropping an investigation into alleged Iranian complicity in two terrorist bombings of jewish targets in Argentina.

From the Telegraph, Robin Yapp:
President Cristina Kirchner's government allegedly indicated it was prepared to suspend inquiries into attacks on the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992 and the Argentine Israeli Mutual Association in 1994, that killed 114 people.
Ali Akbar Salehi, the Iranian foreign minister, is said to have written to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to tell him Argentina "is no longer interested in solving these two attacks, but would rather improve its economic relations with Iran."
The memo, which was leaked to the Argentinian newspaper Perfil, was apparently written after Hector Timerman, the Argentine Foreign Minister, met with Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, a close ally of Iran, in January.
The July 1994 car bomb attack on the seven-storey Jewish centre in Buenos Aires, killed 85 people and left up to 300 injured, making it the country's worst terrorist attack.
Two years earlier a bomb had destroyed the Israeli embassy in the capital of Argentina, killing 29 people and injuring more than 240.  
Argentine officials, the United States and Israel have all blamed Iran for orchestrating the two bombings, which they say were carried out by Hezbollah. Ahmad Vahidi, Iran's defence minister, is one of five people wanted by Interpol for the 1994 bombing. Iran has denied involvement in the attacks.
An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman said that if the claims about Mr Timerman were true, "then it would be a display of infinite cynicism and a dishonor to the dead."
He said he was awaiting an official comment from Argentina amid reports that Israel could postpone a visit Mr Timerman is due to make there next week as a result of the claims. The Argentine Foreign Ministry has not made any statement on the matter. Trade between Argentina and Iran is currently worth around $1.2bn (£750m) a year.
I will never forget the Argentinean jews that I met when I lived in israel in  the 1970's. They told me chilling stories of the carjackings and other anti-semitic abuse they faced when living there, a favorite stop for unrepentant nazis after the second world war. I have family in Buenos Aires. The ties between Middle east terrorism and leftist countries like Venezuela have been well documented of late. Roger Noriega's column in the Washington Post last week is eye opening.

In any case, if the reports on the deal are true, Argentina has shown what a cheap price it can be bought for and the true breadth of its moral character.

Peter Sprague & Larry Coryell



The most brilliant guitar player ever from San Diego going off with Larry Coryell!

Diana Krall

shutterbug

My friends and photography and hiking buds Kerry and Jasmine did an incredibly nice thing for me. They sent me a Nikon camera rig with the 18:135mm lens identical to the one I already own. Sold it to me for a fraction of its worth. Jasmine went and joined Kerry in Canon land. Like the Hatfields and the McCoys.

Anyhow, this will allow me to keep my 300mm on a camera for the bird shots in the canyon this summer and have a studio or shop camera to boot. Must always have one by my side. This will help. There is no discernible difference between them except a slight difference in shutter feel and a light meter that skews a bit darker. So there will be little or no learning curve. Thank you so much J & K! Death Valley soon!

This is a shot of the fog on Gavilan a few mornings ago.

The English Beat - Twist And Crawl

Big Feed

A bunch of my wonderful foodie friends and I had one of our collective dinners on Saturday. The characters change per event but the food is always great. We were originally going to build around an ingredient like we did on our infamous truffle night but collectively decided to just skew italian instead this time.


It was a delicious and very competent show of culinary skill and acumen. Not a weak link in the bunch, that is, unless you want to discuss me. I got there early and decided to prep my dish. Dominick at Dominick's Deli  had special ordered me a box of burrata, the special italian cheese similar to mozzarella that has only become widely available in the last several years.

According to what I have read, burrata, a type of cheese traditionally made from water buffalo's milk, should be consumed within 48 hours of importation. The packaging says that that this one is good until the 14th of April. I guess that in Italy it is traditionally covered with a green asphodel leaf. When the leaf loses color the cheese should no longer be consumed. Anyway, we tried it at Cucina Urbana and had to get some more.


Burrata is a squishy mess. Some people can't handle the strange foreign texture. But it is really delicious. A pouch is made in the mozzarella ball during its production. Creme is poured into the center and it is sealed. Very nice served on crusty bread.

I prepared it on a platter of heirloom tomatoes with course salt, fresh basil and an olive oil we picked up in Napa that was also also pressed with basil. We roasted more garlic in olive oil for a topping in case the burrata needed more flavor. It didn't. Dixon pulled out the high grade balsamic and we played with that. Served the whole thing on sourdough bagettes. Addictive stuff.

Everybody laughed at my clumsy knife skills as I attacked the misshapen tomatoes in a crude and unorthodox fashion. They were one of the ugliest garnishes you will have set eyes on but fortunately pretty tasty. Didn't need as much burrata as I thought or brought either.

By the way, Fallbrookians, Dominick has brought me in some nice special order stuff; molinari, prosciutto, burrata. If you need anything, just ask him and he can get it for you. He's more than reasonable and a great guy too.

It was a nice evening and a somber cloud front rolled in and we watched the sun go down and chatted in the living room.



We popped a bottle of Chateau Montelena Zinfandel and various other bottles of varying types and pedigree in order to slake our growing thirst. Prosecco. Pellegrino. All good.


Leslie followed my efforts with her secondi of 100% crab perfect crabcakes with wasabi aioli. They were damn good but not quite perfect, due to her not knowing our host's oven's idiosyncrasies. She made do. She makes the best crabcakes, served with a generous squeeze of lemon.


Jerri brought a delicious antipasto and John served us a contorno of an absolutely insanely delicious eggplant parmigiana with blue corn. It was blue/purple, gorgeous and gluten free. It had been micrograted with parmigiana and was the best we all had ever had. Bummed that Jeaneane couldn't make it for dinner, out with the flu. John also served some of his own superlative basil and cilantro pesto.

We sat down at the beautiful table bedecked with fine crytal and silver and had the more formal part of the dinner. A green salad. Leslie offered her mushroom caranoli risotto with saffron which was unbelievable. Dixon grilled up radichio and asparagus, again simply cooked to perfection. Renée had brought a giant filet mignon that could feed a small battalion. Just rare enough, slathered liberally in a salt brine, it was devoured. I had mine with a dollop of pesto. The perfect crunch and crust.



We were totally stuffed and then Connie served her lemon meringue lemon tarts which would not be denied.  She made a gluten free crust that was the equal or better of any gluteny crust you have ever tried.


We all sort of ambled around the kitchen and cleaned up. Cracked a bottle of Robert Hall Muscat that was very, very nice. A perfect evening all in all, that is if you don't mind misshapen tomatoes.

And away we all flew back to our respective haunts, totally stuffed and satiated. I love these collective cooking nights, even though I am an eater and not a cook. It is nice to hang around so many great chefs and even better to live with one full time. 21 years and every meal has been great. Love you, sweetheart. Thanks to all of my friends for continuing to make things happen. You are the best. And thank you to my blogosphere, friends, lurkers, all of you. This blog is one of the great, fun things in my life and thanks for being a part of it.

The B52's - Legal Tender

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Japan Nuclear crisis: Nuke plant radiation 10 million, strike that, 100,000 times higher than normal


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Quiet Time Again © Robert Sommers

Anniversary Song



Played this song at our wedding. Like the funky guitar.

Another cool guitar sound. Clarence Carter.

Our New World

From the Anchorage Daily News: 
Alaskan Gov. Sean Parnell's appointee for the panel that nominates state judges testified Wednesday that he would like to see Alaskans prosecuted for having sex outside of marriage.
Don Haase of Valdez, also admitted under questioning by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that his official resume failed to disclose his leadership role in Eagle Forum Alaska, which advocates for social conservative issues. He most recently was president of the organization, but resigned when he learned of his nomination, he said.
Haase, picked by Parnell for one of three public seats on the Alaska Judicial Council, said that he wouldn't let his personal beliefs influence which candidates he'd approve for judgeships.
Haase was asked on an Eagle Forum web forum if he thought extramarital sex should be a felony in Alaska.
"I don't see that that would rise to the level of a felony," Haase said.
Paskvan: "Do you believe it should be a crime?"
Haase: "Yeah, I think it's very harmful to have extramarital affairs. It's harmful to children, it's harmful to the spouse who entered a legally binding agreement to marry the person that's cheating on them."
Paskvan: "What about premarital affairs -- should that be a crime?"
Haase: "I think that would be up to the voters certainly. If it came before (the state) as a vote, I probably would vote for it ... I can see where it would be a matter for the state to be involved with because of the spread of disease and the likelihood that it would cause violence. I can see legitimate reasons to push that as a crime."
Governor Parnell is the same guy that said he didn't know if the earth was older than 4000 years during an election debate. You're an imbecile. I've said it. Are rational human beings required to hold their nose and pretend that the earth is flat so as not to offend their fellow citizens?

***

The Vatican wants just a bit more tolerance for the intolerant. The Vatican condemned a United Nations Human Rights Council resolution in support of gay rights last tuesday. The resolution was sponsored by 85 countries including the United States.

Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, the Vatican's representative to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva explained their opposition:
“People are being attacked for taking positions that do not support sexual behavior between people of the same sex. When they express their moral beliefs or beliefs about human nature … they are stigmatised, and worse – they are vilified, and prosecuted.”    "States can and must regulate behaviors, including various sexual behaviors. Certain kinds of sexual behaviors must be forbidden by law. Pedophilia and incest are two examples.” 
There is something strangely ironic about this church talking about pedophilia and homosexuality for that matter, with their own record of late. Like something out of Alice. But there are many similar recent refrains in conservative America today that echo the Vatican's in regards to having more sympathy for the intolerant views of some of our citizenry.

***

One of the problems we have when we elevate myth and religion to the fore and into our laws is that religious doctrine is a shifting sand. No one can agree on which myth or theological understanding is sacrosanct. In Kentucky, the head of the Creation Museum is in hot water with his fellow arkologists over conflicting views on creation. 

From the Kentucky Courier Press:
A homeschool convention in Cincinnati has dropped the founder of the Creation Museum in Kentucky as a speaker for “ungodly and mean-spirited” comments about another invited speaker.
The organizers of Great Homeschool Conventions also banned Answers In Genesis founder Ken Ham from future conventions. They say Ham was critical of Peter Enns of the BioLogos Foundation, a Christian group that seeks to find common ground with scientific findings, like evolution. The Lexington Herald-Leader reported that Ham said in a recent blog post that Enns’ teachings undermine “the authority of the Word of God.”
Ham founded the Creation Museum, which includes exhibits based on Old Testament stories. He is also leading an effort to build an amusement park based on the story of Noah’s Ark, called the Ark Encounter.
Ham is sore because the apostates are "not just compromising Genesis with evolution, it is outright liberal theology that totally undermines the authority of the Word of God."

The Great Homeschooling Conventions organization says in a statement that it agrees "100 percent" with Ham on "young earth" creationism — that the literal interpretation of the Bible means that God created the universe within the last several thousands years and all types of life in basically their present form. The scientific consensus is that both are billions of years old and that humans evolved from other species.


Peter Enns is a senior fellow at the Biologos Foundation. This is a Christian group interested in issues concerning science and religion. Apparently he suggested the story of Adam and Eve may be misinterpreted by Christians, and suggests it could instead symbolize the creation of Israel.

Ham said that Enns' position and curriculum was the sort of "outright liberal theology that totally undermines the authority of the Word of God," even going so far as to say it's an attack on Christ.

The Creation Museum has drawn a million visitors since it opened in 2007 and enjoys a lot of tax perks from the state of Kentucky. Recently they refused to allow a gay couple to enter the museum. Have to tolerate their intolerance, I suppose.

It would be nice if the religious conservatives in this country could at least agree on their theological canon before they shove it down the rest of our throats.

***

Saturday, March 26, 2011

vicious

Feathered Friends

It has been a difficult time for my friend D___. He lost his wife last year after a heroic fight with pancreatic cancer. It was a struggle that saw a brave and humble woman beat the odds against the nasty killer for several years before she finally succumbed.

D___ and his wife were bird people. Bird people are different then the rest of us. Like fish people. My friend Corrie is a birder. To be able to syncopate your head and emotions with an avian or gill bearing aquatic vertebrate (or craniate) animal that lacks limbs with digits (wickipedia's definition, not mine) is a talent that is beyond my comprehension. My parents had a Mexican Red parrot and a macaw when I was young but they were a mere decoration. I tried lovebirds for a short period but could never make the emotional connection. Ditto the fish tank, a pursuit that required more maintenance than I was capable of offering in order to stave off that dastardly ick. I personally align more with dogs and cats.

D___ and Corrie have a different and deeper relationship with their feathered friends and I salute them. To me it just looks like work. There is a dealer in my line of business and a customer at the shows, a wealthy man who collects glass, who like to let the birds ride upon their shoulder whilst they walk around the halls, the birds gleefully crapping upon their jackets all the while. It looks disgusting to me, the greenish white trail of bird shit, but my squeamishness might just be another indicator of my general lack of depth as a human being.

D___ lost his cockatoo a few months ago. He had the bird for over 32 years and it is another significant loss, this death in the family. He tells me that I would have loved the bird and I have to take him at his word. He said that the bird was gentle and loving and I am sorry I never met the bird.

I have been on the lookout for a new bird for D. If you know of a nice bird that needs a good home, please contact me.

***

I ran into D___ having coffee this morning and he mentioned that he had heard a ruckus outside his home the other day and went to investigate the commotion. He said that the noisemaker was a small relation in the toucan family, possibly an araçari, jumping around in his bushes.  He and a friend dropped a net over the visitor from the heavens and he is now taking care of it.

I went online and we discovered that the bird is most probably a close relative of the araçari, the guyana toucanet, with its red lower beak. We read up on the bird and it even eats avocados, a Fallbrook staple, the whole bird family emanating from Southern Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.




I drove over today around lunchtime and met D___'s other bird, a yellow somethinged amazon that he has had for over 34 years. Nice enough bird, not much of a talker. Also got acquainted with the toucanet, a bird he now calls toocoo. And here he or she is.





Really a very lovely bird, likes melon and grapes. If the owner doesn't surface looks like my pal has made a new friend. Seems ordained by the bird gods.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

More divisive politics

Was the Constitution and Bill of Rights only written for christian Americans? Bryan Fischer seems to think so. From Talking Points Memo:
Bryan Fischer, the "Director of Issues Analysis" for the social conservative group the American Family Association, says that when it comes to Islam, the First Amendment is a privilege, not a right. "Islam has no fundamental First Amendment claims, for the simple reason that it was not written to protect the religion of Islam," Fischer wrote today.
"The First Amendment was written by the Founders to protect the free exercise of Christianity. They were making no effort to give special protections to Islam. Quite the contrary," Fischer wrote on his Renew America blog. "Islam has no fundamental First Amendment claims, for the simple reason that it was not written to protect the religion of Islam. Islam is entitled only to the religious liberty we extend to it out of courtesy. While there certainly ought to be a presumption of religious liberty for non-Christian religious traditions in America, the Founders were not writing a suicide pact when they wrote the First Amendment.
Fischer took it a step further, calling Islam a "treasonous ideology" and adding that "from a constitutional point of view, Muslims have no First Amendment right to build mosques in America. They have that privilege at the moment, but it is a privilege that can be revoked."
As a non christian United States citizen I find it repugnant that the Bryan Fischers of this world feel that the first amendment only applies to Christians and can be doled out as a privilege to others that can be revoked as necessary.

***

In other news creationism is making a big comeback in the state houses. From Mother Jones' Josh Harkinson:
State governments are grappling with massive budget deficits, overburdened social programs, and mountains of deferred spending. But never mind all that. For some conservative lawmakers, it's the perfect time to legislate the promotion of creationism in the classroom. In the first three months of 2011, nine creationism-related bills have been introduced in seven states—that's more than in any year in recent memory:
 1. Texas
Legislation: HB 2454 would ban discrimination against creationists, for instance, biology professors who believe in intelligent design. Defending his bill, Texas state Rep. Bill Zedler told Mother Jones, "When was the last time we’ve seen someone go into a windstorm or a tornado or any other kind of natural disaster, and say, 'Guess what? That windstorm just created a watch'?"
Status: Referred to Higher Education Committee.
2. Kentucky
Legislation: The Kentucky Science Education and Intellectual Freedom Act (HB 169) would have allowed teachers to use "other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner." Kentucky already authorizes public schools to teach "the theory of creation as presented in the Bible" and to "read such passages in the Bible as are deemed necessary for instruction on the theory of creation." The state is home to the world-renowned Creation Museum and it may soon build the Ark Encounter, the world's first creationist theme park.
Status: Died in committee. 
3. Florida
Legislation: SB 1854 would amend Florida law to require a "thorough presentation and critical analysis of the scientific theory of evolution." In 2009, Florida state Sen. Stephen Wise, the bill's sponsor, rhetorically asked a Tampa radio host: "Why do we still have apes if we came from them?"
Status: Referred to Senate Committee on Education Pre-K-12, which Wise chairs.
4. Tennessee
Legislation: HB 368 and SB 893 would require educators to "assist teachers to find effective ways to present the science curriculum as it addresses scientific controversies." The bills list four "controversies" ripe for pedagogical tinkering: biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning. Modeled on Louisiana's Science Education Act (which became law in 2008), the bills are believed to have a good shot at passing. Steven Newton of the National Center for Science Education, which promotes teaching evolution in public schools, worries that the legislation "will allow teachers to bring this culture war into the classroom in a way that is going to leave students very confused about what science is and isn't."
Status: HB 368 was passed by the House General Subcommittee on Education on March 16.
5. Oklahoma
Legislation: The Sooner State kicked off its creationism legislation season early with the January 19 pre-filing of SB 554, a bill that would have ensured that teachers could present "relevant scientific information" about "controversial topics in the sciences" including "biological origins of life and biological evolution." It also would have required Oklahoma to adopt science standards echoing those passed by in 2009 by the Texas state board of education. "Using your tax dollars to teach the unknown, without disclosing the entire scientific findings is incomplete and unacceptable," wrote the bill's sponsor, state Sen. Josh Brecheen, in the Durant Daily Democrat. A second bill introduced in February, the Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act, resembled Louisiana's Science Education Act.
Status: Both bills died in committee.
6. New Mexico
Legislation: HB 302, another bill modeled on Louisiana's Science Education Act. Sponsor Kent Cravens, a state senator from Albuquerque, told the Santa Fe New Mexican that the bill wasn't anti-Darwinian, but rather was "intended to give the teacher the ability to disclose that there may be another way to think about this, whatever subject they are talking about."
Status: Died in committee.
7. Missouri
Legislation: HB 195 would permit teachers "to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of the theory of biological and hypotheses of chemical evolution." Missouri is the site of the newly opened Creation Museum of the Ozarks.
Status: Not yet referred to a committee.
Now I have been accused of christian bashing by certain blog visitors of late and that is certainly not my intent. I do think that a republican party that ran on the platform of economic issues and the notion of a return to smaller government with nary a mention of their social agenda was a bit of a trojan horse. They are ramming a fundamentalist agenda down the country's throat and I believe that it will be addressed in the next election.

Besides the above referenced cases, the woman's right to choose is getting ratcheted down and legislated away throughout the heartland. In South Dakota the governor has just signed a bill that requires a woman to visit a faith based counselor three days before an operation in order to"discourage" her and make sure that she is not coerced. As if a woman who decided that she was not ready to bear and raise a child needed to be coerced.

Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain spoke to a home school bunch in Iowa yesterday and derided public education in this country.
Paul told the crowd government wants "absolute control" of the "indoctrination" of children.
"The public school system now is a propaganda machine," Paul said, prompting applause from the crowd of hundreds of home schooling families. "They start with our kids even in kindergarten, teaching them about family values, sexual education, gun rights, environmentalism -- and they condition them to believe in so much which is totally un-American." 
Can you imagine, they are teaching kids about environmentalism, horrors!

Azteca

The improbable San Diego State Aztec basketball team is in the Sweet 16 and play the Big East powerhouse Connecticut Huskies in a few hours in Anaheim. A guy at the gym said that he had two tickets for me but then welched when he saw what they were going for on ebay.

The Aztecs have a great team, long, athletic, tenacious. They are excellent defenders and rebounders. They have a "tweener" player named Kawhi Leonard that is going to be an excellent pro. Their shooting is a bit spotty. Their guards are rather undersized but do not give up turnovers.

The Huskies have a big time scorer named Kemba Walker and a bunch of other guys that like to watch him shoot. Should be a really good game. I am going to split early and go watch it.

As a San Diego native who has followed the program since Tony Gwynn was the star point guard and Michael Cage played forward, I stand behind the Aztecs and congratulate them on a storybook season, win or lose.

Go Aztecs!

***

I rarely write about sports but do have the normal male fascination with them. There is an interesting story out in Forbes about the San Diego Padres and their finances.  Turns out the poor little small market team, courtesy of their skinflint owner Jeff Moorad and his group, are the most profitable team in baseball, followed close after by another tightwad team, the Pittsburgh Pirates.

They reportedly had revenues of 189 million dollars last year, while spending about $40 million on talent. Their ratio of salary to revenue is about 22% while most teams pay their players about 50% of revenue.

This is a team that has consistently cried poor while trading their best players away, a la Adrian Gonzalez or Jake Peavy. Hoyer and Moorad, the slick one time player agent, aspire to be a Red Sox farm club and refuse to spend any money, preferring to compete on the cheap.

Adrian Gonzales said it best last month when he said that in Boston, they play to win, in San Diego, they play to compete. Because that is enough for Hoyer and crew. They had a scrappy team last year with a fine manager, Bud Black. They came one game away from the division, thanks to a late august, ten game swoon.

Hoyer rewarded the gutty players by canning most of them. He thought their success was an anomaly. That's gratitude. The man Hoyer replaced was a gunslinger named Kevin Towers who I had total respect for. He was canned, reportedly for mouthing a couple of "f-bombs" during his perfunctory interview.

Fans are suckers for continuing to give allegiance to teams that are only in it for the money, with no commitment to winning.  Who think that finishing in second place is having an excellent season. 

When Petco Park was built, the expensive new ballpark that gave John Moores development rights all over the area, fans and taxpayers were told that the owners would be now opening their wallets. Shame on us for believing them.





Commerce and Stuff

I have been feeling rather indolent and lazy lately. Although business has been quite good, I have been content to sit on my haunches and wait for it to come to me. I decided to get off my ass and pursue my quarry this week.

My plan was to get up at 3:30 a.m. on Sunday and go to the Long Beach Flea Market. Thank god it was raining and gave me an excuse to stay in my new comfy bed. Leslie and I left at eight o'clock, a more decent hour and headed up to Glendale instead.

Ted and Sandy from Roadside America were promoting a new antique show called Antiques, Objects and Art, L.A. at the Glendale Civic, a venue that we have sold our wares at for years. Many of our best buddies in the business were selling there and a few blog readers who introduced themselves, including my new friends from the Portola Valley. Thank you, thank you!

The show was a mix of spanish revival, mission, modern, found objects and deco. I hope that everyone did okay. It was pissing down rain on sunday, something that you can't blame on a promoter, unless he or she has an inordinate amount of pull. In any case it was a lovely show, lots of outstanding decorative objects.

John Favors was there and Steve Maras and some others that I neglected to get a picture of, just a whole bunch of our favorite people in the business. Bob Joyce. Dorrie Hall. Dennis Boses. I bought one or two things, nothing earth shattering. Los Angeles artist Larry Blagg was showing some very interesting assemblage pieces of his own at the show.


Afterwards Leslie and I went out to our favorite mexican restaurant in the world, La Cabanita in Montrose. We both had the pork chop chuletas in pasilla and sour crema. Phenomenal as always. Great coffee. Thick chewy homemade tortillas with just a little more lime taste. It is so outstanding.

The rest of the week has been zip. Hit Temecula, Lake Elsinore, San Marcos, Oceanside, Solana Beach, Ocean Beach, nothing. Zilch. Couldn't find a single decent thing to buy. Did manage to find some cool woodblock prints on ebay.

Tough to sort through the dregs of a dying culture. There just ain't much left worth a damn. I think I am heading back to my old plan b.



Tuesday, March 22, 2011

James Chance and The Contortions Live

Children of Ron.

I was listening to some smart guy pontificating the other day about the freshmen republican firebrands. He said that they were the philosophical children of Ronald Reagan, who was president around the time they came of age.  I must confess to hating Ronnie as governor and president, I hated the Patco thing. He deregulated the Savings and Loans, an action that ultimately caused my bank to go under and help deep six my real estate business.

If the sixties and seventies saw the flourishing and subsequent tail end of the love generation and revolution and all that stuff, the most significant epoch culturally in the last 50 years for sure, the time of Reagan was the blowback period where the pendulum helped straighten out mom and dad's youthful exuberance and fuzzy period of excess.

Hate to sound like an old fart, but these kids are a bit cold and clinical for my taste. Maybe we could use the draft again to temper some of their crueler natures. Maybe the next wave will loosen up a little bit.

***

If the old revolution was fueled by sex, drugs and rock and roll, the new changes are more rooted in technology. Facebook, Twitter and Al Jazeera are now the mechanisms for opening people's minds, much the same way that the free market and commerce managed to co-opt and topple the socialist regimes in Russia and China. And call me a romantic, I will take the old hippie ways over a new ipad any day. Even with the hangover.

***

The new Republican wave in tea party bean counters trying to muscle the labor unions seems really un- american to me. In my day, you made a contract or promise to someone you stuck to it. People take shitty public jobs because of the benefits. It keeps our teachers and their fellow public servants motivated. This guy in Michigan who is sending a guy around to terminate contracts and install martial economic law, it is plain wrong.

If you don't like the deal labor is getting, negotiate a better deal next time, don't break your promise. And next will be entitlements. We have become a society of liars and double crossers.

Over hill, over dale...

Some of my friends on the left are turning against Obama because of his intervention in Libya. Although I am a bit apprehensive, I think that he made the right move. Gaddafi was quickly decimating his opposition and own people, including strafing them with jet fighters. The air strikes have evened the slate somewhat.

Of course once again the United States and a few allies are acting like the world's policemen. The question is, if not them, who?

The United States, thanks to many isolationists, non interventionists and outright nazi sympathizers sat out the first two years of World War II. We didn't enter the mix until Pearl Harbor in 1941. How many homosexuals, gypsies, jews and other undesirable people were slaughtered or gassed in the ovens while we sat on our hands? Did we not have a moral duty to act?

The outcome of the popular uprisings in the middle east are anybody's guess. Libya has always been a power struggle between three main tribal elements. If we supplant the Colonel and he is merely replaced by a similar tribal head, I think that we would term the revolution a failure.

In addition many prognosticators envision the next wave as much more stridently islamic and anti Israel. The main recipients of the people's ire have been the United State's allies in Egypt and Yemen. Syria, Iran and the hardline countries have been particularly brutal in quelling the efforts to throw off the yoke of oppression and dictatorship. And largely successful.

The war between Iran and Iraq was one of the ugliest of the last century. Lasting between 1980 and 1988, it was the longest conventional war of the 20th century. Almost a million people were killed on both sides of the battle.

Both the Israelis and the Americans were ambivalent regarding the conflict and have been accused in some circles of stoking the fire behind the scenes to prolong the conflict.  Kissinger remarked that "it's a pity they [Iran and Iraq] both can't lose." I find this type of realpolitik a bit nauseating from a human standpoint but also understandable in a strategic sense.

The Arab League, those bumbling buffoons, were quick to castigate the French and American air show this week, purportedly because of the twenty civilians that may have been killed collaterally, a fact that is being challenged by the Pentagon. The Arab League are a pompous bunch of blowhards who couldn't get out of their own shadow and could never aid there fellow arabs. Yet they criticize? The internecine hatreds in the middle east run so deep that it is laughable. Besides hating Israel there is not much else to agree on. For them to actually do something would be beyond comprehension.

Now Daffy Gadaffi is being lauded by his fellow peace lover, Hugo Chavez, from way far away in Venezuela. With the exception of Sean Penn and Ollie Stone, I don't think many liberals are real keen on Hugo but, hey, I've been wrong before. An interesting piece in the WaPo detailing the South American connection by Roger Noriega on Sunday.

***

I think that the more popular response on the part of the liberal left, the Ellsburg's of the world trying to recapture the spark of lost youth, is that this is just another opportunity for the United States to test out its missile systems and pump more money into the Military Industrial Complex. Cynical but understandable. I do not personally think that that is what is going on today in Libya. The Administration has been very firm about the limited nature of any operations.

I am very serious about getting out of Afghanistan and Iraq yesterday. But I applaud the administration for trying to stop a slaughter, regardless of the eventual outcome. One day, it could be us.

I can see Haifa from my house.

Sarah Palin was photographed in Israel wearing her Star of David necklace this week. I don't know about you but I find it a little patronizing. If I visited Rome and wore a crucifix around my neck and sported a red beanie, I frankly think that people might talk. It is a slight bit tawdry to wear a religious symbol around your neck as a fashion accessory.

But she wouldn't be the first to do it. Years ago, a famous comedian's stepdaughter came into my shop. She was from Beverly Hills. She was looking at and ended up buying an overlarge William Spratling amethyst cross for a couple grand from me.

"But S------," I asked. "You're jewish."

"I know," she says, "but all of the other mothers are wearing them when they drop their kids off at school."

***

Monday, March 21, 2011

THE STRANGLERS - Midnight Summer Dream

Strange Days

The world seems to be getting a little uglier of late, in my little corner and on the big stage at large. Wars and rumors of wars, suicide bombings, giant moons destined to pull apart our tectonic plates and unleash a torrent of earthquakes, tsunamis and famines, all under the averted eye of an uncaring god.

The abuse at the coffee shop started months ago. I needed some gravy for the french dip. "Au jus for the jew" the owner yelled out. It got to be a little family joke with them, but a fairly one sided one. When I walked in the other day and the waitress loudly exclaimed, "I smell a jew in here" it was the final straw. I told her that when her crony did it I hated it and I didn't appreciate it with her either and the other waitress piped up, "Well, it's not like you're jewish or anything" and I got up and said that's it, over.

They stopped the sunday meetings of the Aryan Nations out on the patio a few years ago and I thought that we were headed for better times. But after thirty years of patronage I don't think I will be going back.

***

Today started out pretty nice before the rain hit. I saw this blue heron in the field down by the mailboxes, an unusual place for a heron, perhaps he was picking out some fat worms for his breakfast.

***

I had done the normal monday things, quick ineffectual workout, grabbed a danish and a milk at the doughnut shop and squeezed into the little blue plastic chair to try to read the ever thinner newspaper. Saw some folks that I haven't seen in literally thirty years. Dottie's second husband just died at 102. Chatted with the gunsmith and his wife. Left and made a bank deposit at my bank.

I paid the mortgage on the building at the other bank, the other outfit that was missing a necessary apostrophe in its name. "What are you, some kind of writer?" the cashier asked me when I brought it to his attention. Well, some kind, I guess...

***

I was sitting at my desk this afternoon in my darkened gallery when I looked over my left shoulder and saw a figure at the door. I got up and walked the forty or so feet to the entrance when I saw that a man was actually pissing through my mail slot. A man in his early thirties, white, with slicked back hair and prison tats on his hands and neck. My mind raced. I opened the door. "What the fuck are you doing?" I asked. "You're not going to call the cops are you, I'll clean it up?" I saw a huge puddle of pee both in and outside my door and on a persian carpet. I shut the door and locked it and thought about grabbing my .38 caliber revolver and shooting him. But it wouldn't be worth it. I opened the door. "Who the fuck are you and why would you do something like this?" I asked the man. His breath smelled strongly of booze and he had prison written all over him. "I'm Joey and I met you at a party the other night", he said.
"No", I contradicted him,"I've never seen you before in my life."

Joey or whoever the fuck he was made a crude "fuck you" gesture and went running down the street and around the corner. I stared at the gross pool of violation and wondered about a course of action. I am a bit of a soft target on Main St. with big expensive plate glass windows and I try to step around altercations that can be ultimately even more damaging to my life and property as much as possible. But I had been punked by an insane deviant.

The policewoman came, the same deputy who had taken my information after the Facebook scam. "White, about 170 lbs., early thirties, slicked back hair, black horned rims, heavy tats on his neck and arms, cream colored hoodie, not sure about the pants, don't know if he was armed..." Did I want to press charges? Yes.

I asked her if I should try to take him down if I saw him again and she handed me her card and said to call her instead. She left and I attached the hose to the bib out front and swept away the piss from inside and outside the shop. The rug will now have to be cleaned. I know one of the tattoo guys in the neighborhood, "C" and called his shop but he wasn't there. Seeing if they knew the guy. Could someone else have sent him? Someone with a vendetta? From the coffee shop? Was he armed? The guy on the phone said that C was out but that the guy didn't seem familiar and gave the "inked" a bad name. He said that if he saw him he would punch him in the face for me.

I sat in my chair and tried to write and collect my thoughts when the deputy showed back up about a half hour later. They caught the guy a few blocks away after he stole a car and tried to break into somebody's home. He was shorter and skinnier than I had described but not by much. The tattoos were on his neck and hands, in the split second I made my observation I must have seen hands and assumed arms. They might have been on his arms too, she didn't see them, her partner had picked him up. Didn't think he was from the area, probably wouldn't bother me again, but you know the criminal justice system, she said. She said that this type of perp was just methed out and totally random. It was my lucky day and my shop was the urinal. Lucky me. I feel violated and I think I will get out of here pretty soon and try to enjoy the rest of the afternoon.

The earth is eight feet off it's axis and the inhabitants have totally lost their bearings and there ain't no other place for us to go.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Ooh La La


A song by the late, great Ronnie Lane.

Kerry Vernon Johnson




My friend Kerry is a professional photographer who has lived in the Grand Canyon for the last twenty or so years. He sells more photographs than anyone I know, at National Parks all over America and through his South Rim Studio. Kerry knows and loves Native American land and slickrock country better than anyone I know.


Kerry and I painted together in college and have been hiking and photography buddies for many years, along with his lovely wife Jasmine, who is also a very accomplished photographer.

Kerry has a keen and sometimes perverse eye. His photos are often painterly, grand and eloquent snapshots of life and nature. He finally sent me a few snapshots for the blog.